My Longest Ham Radio Contact Yet!

Every morning when I’m having my coffee I like to make a few amateur radio contacts with other operators throughout the world. This morning I noticed that my signals were reaching into Australia from my home here in Connecticut!

These signals were being logged by other amateur operators running the WSJTX software that listens for transmissions generated using the FT8 protocol.

I immediately sent a Tweet (or whatever X calls them these days) to my friend Hayden who runs the awesome Hamradio DX YouTube channel. He’s located in Tasmania, an island off the southern coast of Australia. He fired up his rig and we were able to reach each other!

FT8 is a specialized digital communications mode that can send limited messages over very long distances. The combination of the signal’s characteristics and the WSJTX software makes these transmissions readable even when a human listening may only hear static. Hayden’s software reported receiving my signal at -15db which is actually pretty good given the distance involved.

What’s most impressive is that these signals are not being relayed through satellites or the Internet. This is a direct point-to-point communication with the signal bouncing off the atmosphere. These super long range communications won’t happen every day, but when atmospheric conditions are right these long distance contacts are possible as we demonstrated.

To find out more check out Hayden’s channel where I learned a lot about radio technology when I was just getting started out. And of course you can take a look at my growing playlist of amateur radio topics including a video where I detail how FT8 works.

Running Plex in a Docker Container on Synology is Super Easy

Over the last couple of months I’ve been playing around with a bunch of self-hosted projects using Docker containers on my Synology NAS. In my most recent sponsored video for Plex, we take a look at spinning up a Plex server inside a container using Synology’s new Container Manager on DSM 7.2.

One might wonder, why use Docker when you can simply install Plex from the Synology package center? The answer lies in the flexibility and advantages Docker offers. Docker containers provide backup and migration opportunities that are more straightforward than other methods. They also offer a level of isolation, enhancing security. In the case of Synology specifically, the Docker versions tend to get updated more frequently, ensuring you always have the latest features.

Before diving in, ensure your Synology NAS is compatible with Docker. Synology’s website has a list of compatible devices that work with their Container Manager. If you are a Plex Pass holder and want to enable hardware transcoding you’ll also need to ensure your Synology NAS is running with an Intel processor that’s compatible with QuickSync video encoding. You can learn more about video transcoding in another video I made on that topic.

My video will take you step by step through the installation process by using a Docker Compose file to configure the container. If you’d like to see the one I’m using you can download it here.

Setting up Plex on Synology NAS using Docker was one of the more straightforward Docker projects I’ve undertaken. The process is efficient, and the benefits, especially in terms of backup and migration, make it worth considering for your next install.

New LG Televisions Will Not Have ATSC 3 Tuners Due to Patent Dispute

In a surprising bit of news LG, a major TV manufacturer and co-developer of the ATSC 3 standard, announced its decision to discontinue support for ATSC 3 on their upcoming televisions. This surprising move is a direct result of a patent lawsuit, and the implications of this decision are significant for the adoption of the new standard. I cover the news in my latest video.

The news was first reported by Cord Cutters News, a trusted source for updates related to cord-cutting. LG also provided a detailed explanation regarding their decision in a recent FCC filing.

At the heart of the patent lawsuit is the A/322 physical layer standard, which is integral to receiving the ATSC 3 broadcast signal. A company named Constellation Designs asserted they had the patent for a portion of this standard. Despite LG’s disagreement with this claim, a Texas jury ruled against them. Consequently, LG is now obligated to pay $6.75 for every television they’ve sold bearing the NextGenTV logo to Constellation Designs LLC.

The judgment against LG was a paltry $1.6 million, and doing the math this equates to only about 250,000 televisions sold with ATSC 3 tuners installed. This does not bode well for the millions of installed tuners broadcasters will need in order to convince the FCC to allow a transition to the new standard – especially as a major manufacturer is now pulling support for the time being.

The ATSC 3 standard is a complex web of patents from a multitude of companies. To streamline the management of these patents, there are established patent pools that offer licenses at standardized rates that cost manufacturers around $3 per tuner. However, participation in these pools is not mandatory, leading to potential conflicts like the one LG encountered.

There’s a growing concern that other manufacturers utilizing this technology might find themselves embroiled in similar legal battles with Constellation Designs who now likely smells blood in the water. In their FCC filing LG expressed concern that other patent holders may also try and sue and extract more revenue from television makers.

So what’s next? Broadcasters were no doubt anticipating that beginning in 2024 more new televisions would have ATSC 3 capability built in. With LG pulling out, will Samsung, Sony and others do the same? Will the companies attempt to buy out Constellation Designs? Will the FCC step in to try and smooth things out? And can they even make an impact?

This television drama will continue. As they say, stay tuned!

The New and Notable Features of the iPhone 15 Pro & Pro Max

I once again upgraded to a new iPhone, going from last year’s iPhone Pro 14 to the new iPhone Pro 15 Max. In my latest video I take a look at some of the new features introduced in this year’s model – many of them centered around Apple’s move to a USB-C port.

I opted for the larger Pro Max, which boasts a 6.7-inch display. It’s been a while since I had a phone this large, the last one being the iPhone 7 Plus back in 2016. The reason I went for the larger phone this time was the 15 Pro Max’s superior camera system. The telephoto lens on the larger phone offers a 5x Zoom, compared to the 3x on the smaller variant. This provides around a 120mm equivalent for zooming in, which I found might be useful for my video work.

Surprisingly, as someone who prefers a smaller phone the larger size of the new Pro Max didn’t bother me. It felt comfortable, and I can type on it one-handed. The slightly thinner bezels do make a difference in the hand. Even though it’s heavier than my old 14 Pro, the 15 Pro Max feels lighter. This might be due to the materials used and how the weight is balanced.

Unlike prior versions, the new iPhones have an “action button” vs. a switch for silent mode. But it can now be configured to do other things. By default, holding it down toggles between silent and ring. However, you can customize the action button to perform different actions. I had fun setting mine to activate the Tesla fart machine, much to the amusement of my kids.

The most significant change is the shift from the proprietary lightning connector to USB Type-C. On the pro phones, that port can run at Gen 2, get a 10 gigabit speeds. As a full service port the phone can take power in, output to an external display, and work with USB data devices simultaneously when connected to a USB-C dock or hub.

For video professionals, the iPhone 15 Pro can record professional ProRes video onto external SSDs at up to 4k at 60 frames per second. The phone will output HDR, SDR, or LOG video.

The camera system of the iPhone has always been impressive. With the new iPhone, you can now switch between lenses at 4K 60 while recording. The new 5x lens offers a nice natural bokeh, but it requires a lot of light to get the best results. In low light conditions, the image quality isn’t as good.

Performance-wise, the new iPhone showed a 22% performance boost over the iPhone 14 Pro in gaming on the 3DMark Wildlife Extreme Test. But the phone tends to throttle significantly when under load, leading to a drop in performance after a very short period of time.

Battery life seems decent on the phone but it’s hard to say how long that experience will last given what I experienced with my iPhone 14 Pro which lost nearly 14% of its max battery capacity in less than a year. Apple did finally add a means of checking the battery’s charge cycle count in the about section of the settings app.

While the new iPhone doesn’t feel groundbreaking compared to its predecessor, it does offer several improvements. The 5x lens, the switch to USB Type-C, and the ability to record ProRes video onto external media are the most notable new features.

8Bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard Review

My latest review is of the 8bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard. At first glance, its beige color, and angled clicky mechanical keys gives off that nostalgic retro vibe. But because its 8bitdo it also comes bundled with some fun: in this case a pair of huge NES style buttons that can be used as macro keys.

The keyboard is priced at $99 and comes in two distinct color schemes. I opted for the NES theme, reminiscent of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. However, there’s also a Famicom version, inspired by the Japanese version of the NES.

Both designs are appealing, but I have a soft spot for beige!

Typing on this keyboard is great. The clicky sound, courtesy of the Kailh box switches, is quite satisfying. The keyboard is very sturdy but not as heavy as vintage keyboards, weighing in at about 2.3 pounds. The keys rest on an aluminum board, but the exterior casing is heavy duty plastic. They keys angle up very similar to vintage IBM keyboards, and as such there’s no plastic feet to adjust the tilt angle.

The keyboard connects via Bluetooth, USB, or a 2.4 gigahertz USB dongle. I tested it on various devices, including Mac and Raspberry Pi, and it worked seamlessly. A switch on the left hand corner of the keyboard seamlessly switches between modes. So it’s possible to quickly switch beteween a phone or tablet paired up via bluetooth, a computer connected via USB, and a third device connecting with the 2.4 ghz dongle.

The standout feature are the programmable keys. The keyboard has a NES style “A” and “B” key at the bottom right along with those two additional large buttons. These can be customized to perform specific functions. For instance, I programmed one to pull up my task manager and another to close active windows. It’s a handy feature that adds a layer of personalization to the keyboard. The keyboard can work with four pairs of large buttons that connect to the back.

As great as this is there are two potential deal breakers: one is that this is in a “ten-keyless” design which lacks a number pad on the right hand side of the keyboard. And unlike most premium mechanical keyboards these days the 8bitdo lacks a backlight for use in the dark.

Overall the 8-bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard is a blend of nostalgia and modern functionality. It’s comfortable, versatile, and offers a unique typing experience.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree: The likely cause of YouTube’s Invalid Traffic problem

It’s been a week since my last video on YouTube’s demonetization of many small channels due to “invalid traffic” and YouTube is still silent as to why some small creators are losing anywhere from half to nearly all of their revenue. In my latest video I take a look at what is the likely cause of this problem and why YouTube isn’t talking.

My suspicion is that YouTube is currently under scrutiny from three major stakeholders, and unfortunately, creators aren’t on that list. First, there are YouTube’s advertisers. Over the summer, a company named Adalytics released two significant studies that questioned some of Google and YouTube’s advertising practices. Although YouTube and parent company Google have denied these claims, the evidence from these studies suggests that these issues might be why revenue is getting clawed back.

One of the studies by Adalytics focused on TrueView skippable in-stream ads. These are the ads you see when you start a YouTube video, which you can choose to watch or skip. If you watch the ad, the advertiser pays. However, over the past two and a half years, YouTube has been selling these ads not just on their platform but also on other websites.

Adalytics and some industry insiders believe that many of these ads aren’t even being viewed by people. They’re running in the background on a website or sometimes not displayed to a person at all. This might be because YouTube doesn’t have as much ad inventory available for advertisers on YouTube itself, making YouTube-only placements a more expensive advertising option compared to other ad supported platforms like Hulu and Netflix.

Another factor is YouTube’s restrictions on how ads can run. Videos deemed “made for kids” can’t run certain types of ads. This reduces the available inventory. Also, YouTube is stringent about which channels can run ads. Many channels and videos are deemed “not advertiser-friendly,” further limiting ad inventory that YouTube can offer advertisers. For some reason advertisers are ok with their ads appearing on platforms like Netflix and Hulu next to content that they would not be comfortable with on YouTube.

Then there’s the issue of YouTube Shorts. These short videos are drawing viewers away from the more profitable long-form content that YouTube’s advertisers want to pay for. Creators who are able to negotiate brand deals on their own are far more motivated to make low-effort Shorts vs. longer form videos that require a greater time investment.

Another concern raised by Adalytics is about the placement of ads on “made for kids” videos. The study suggests that YouTube might be bending the rules by detecting when an adult is watching one of these videos and showing them adult-targeted ads. This was likely done in an effort to increase the amount of inventory they could sell to advertisers.

But here’s the problem: what if YouTube’s adult-detecting AI gets it wrong and a kid is the one actually watching? The Adalytics report suggests this is happening and advertisers are very unhappy. One advertiser said they’d be looking for refunds:

“Google has failed advertisers, again. There is no reasonable excuse for ads running on content intended primarily for kids other than to extort advertisers through a toddler-enabled click farm. The observations around Pmax (Preschooler Max) are damning given the hard sell Google is putting on us to trust their so-called AI black box. We’re overdue real transparency and Google needs to be made accountable – refunding us for all ads on this content and explaining themselves to the FTC.”

This is problematic because kids might still end up clicking on these ads, leading to potential legal issues. It is against the law in the United States to track the online behavior of children under the age of 13.

This in turn creates a “fruit of the poisonous tree” situation. And here’s how I think this is playing out: A kid gets served an adult ad on a “made for kids” video. They click on the ad and now an advertiser is collecting data on that individual. That account then starts viewing other ads on non-kid videos and additional data is collected and additional targeted advertising is directed at that account. But the entire account is poisoned at this point – and any ad views are likely going to be deemed invalid.

If YouTube is looking to refund advertisers for this traffic they’re going to have to follow those accounts across all of the videos they watched in an effort to make these advertisers whole. And it’s likely the creators getting hit with this are appealing to younger audiences hence the great impact. The only open question is why this seems to be hitting smaller creators more than the larger ones.

All these challenges come at a time when Google, YouTube’s parent company, is facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice accusing them of being a monopoly. This is a significant case, and Google’s entire business could be at risk.

I recently spoke with Sarah Kimmel, a fellow creator who runs a channel called Family Tech. She shared her frustrations with the current situation on YouTube. Like many, she’s seen a significant drop in her revenue with zero communication from YouTube. She emphasized the need for transparency from YouTube. All she wants, like many of us, is clarity.

In conclusion, these are challenging times for creators on YouTube. Many factors are at play, and it’s crucial for YouTube to communicate and support its creator community. They

Amazon Tech Haul Episode 2!

A few weeks ago I did a “haul” video of some interesting gadgets I acquired through the Amazon Vine program. That one proved popular with viewers so I’m back with Episode 2! You can watch it here.

Here’s a quick summary of what I found. Each link, which are compensated affiliate links, will take you to the individual video reviews I posted on Amazon:

Redragon K671 Mechanical Keyboard
Like most Redragon keyboards these are mechanical low cost alternatives to membrane keyboards. While not as high quality as a Razer and some of the other premium brands, it does offer a nice tactile feel albeit with shallower key travel. I also found the RGB lighting to be a bit dim, and the colors of the lights are fixed. But for the price I’m not complaining.

MokerLink Outdoor POE Ethernet Switch
This is a low cost POE switch that can deliver a power budget of 78 watts and 30 watts maximum per port. It’s built in a weather proof housing and is designed to be outdoors. But its power supply is sealed inside the case making maintenance difficult and you’ll need to have a weather proof enclosure to plug it into power.

Plugable’s USB-C Extension Cable with Power Meter
Plugable has come up with this USB-C extension cable that includes a built-in power meter. It supports up to 240 Watts and does a good job accurately displaying the power consumption on its tiny screen. I tried powering a mini PC with it but was having some trouble. A lower powered PC one faired a little better. I suspect that you need to be careful about not creating too long of a cable using this extender. A dedicated cable vs. this extender would have been ideal.

Star Linker “Thunderbolt 4” Cable
This Thunderbolt 4 cable caught my attention because of its length – 3 meters or 10 feet – much longer than the Thunderbolt cables I usually see. However, it’s important to note that while it claims to be a Thunderbolt cable, it hasn’t been officially certified. It did perform well in my tests, delivering proper data speeds with a Thunderbolt-only drive that I attached. It’s possible they applied for certification but went to market before that certification was confirmed.

Sodi Magsafe Stand for iPhones
For iPhone users with the Magsafe connector, this stand is a neat accessory. It’s a small stand that uses magsafe to keep the phone in place and it works in both portrait and landscape orientations.

It’s sturdy, and you can even attach it to your MacBook’s display to use your iPhone as a webcam. The quality was surprisingly good, and it didn’t weigh down my MacBook screen.

BENFEI Multi-Function USB Hub
This multi-function device integrates a 3-port USB hub with a gigabit Ethernet port. I liked that its connector works with both USB-A and USB-C ports. Ethernet performance was on par with other USB gigabit adapters and you get the added bonus of three USB-A ports for low power consuming peripherals.

RSF Apple Find My Compatible Smart Tag
I found this alternative to the Apple AirTag intriguing. It’s slightly cheaper than Apple’s version and doesn’t require any additional accessories to be hung from luggage or a pet. It is licensed by Apple to work with the ‘Find My’ network but lacks the ultra-wideband detection feature of the official AirTag for directional finding.

AMZPilot Rugged NVMe M.2 SSD Enclosure
This rugged USB-C NVME SSD enclosure feels well constructed and very rugged for creators on the go. While installing the drive took a little longer than some other enclosures I looked at recently the performance was on par with my expectations.

EZCast HDMI Transmitter
The EZCast HDMI transmitter is a nifty device for business presentations. It wirelessly transmits 1080p video from a laptop to a display or projector using its HDMI receiver. In my testing it easily transmitted across the equivalent of a large conference room with no drivers required. The transmitter unit pulls video from a computer or tablet’s USB-C port with no additional dongles required.

I do these every couple of weeks as new stuff comes in that’s worth talking about. Look for the next one in a couple of weeks once I’ve accumulated enough devices worth talking about! I also produce these while streaming live to Amazon – you can see the recording here.

I also have a running playlist of my prior haul videos at

Disclosure: these products came in free of charge through the Amazon Vine program. I had no contact with the manufacturer, no one reviewed or approved this video before uploading, and no other compensation was received.

PTZOptics Studio Pro Camera Review

For years I’ve been using camcorders in my production environment, shooting videos live to disk. In the past, one could easily find reasonably priced camcorders and set up a mini studio with tools like OBS or Vmix.

But recently new affordable camcorders have become scarce. This is where PTZOptics sees an opportunity with their new Studio Pro camera. Designed specifically for streaming, this camera boasts features similar to a camcorder along with a ton of flexibility for powering and extracting video from it. See more in my video review.

The Studio Pro is priced at $699, and for that, you get a camera capable of 1080p at 60 frames per second max. It can also output a true 1080p at 30 frames per second, which eliminates the interlacing issues found on many consumer camcorders.

The camera’s design includes a handle, though it lacks image stabilization. It also features a stereo microphone and a cold shoe mount. One of the standout features is its versatility in video output. You can use HDMI, USB-C (which the computer recognizes as a regular webcam) or ethernet for various digital formats, including NDI HX3, SRT, RTMP, and RTSP. This means the camera can even stream directly to the Internet with no computer required.

For those looking to shoot vertical videos for platforms like YouTube shorts or Amazon live, the camera has a switch to enable vertical video mode. It has tripod mounts on the bottom and side to accommodate both horizontal and vertical formats.

Powering the camera offers equal flexibility. You can use USB-C, the provided 12-volt power adapter, or use Power over Ethernet (PoE). The advantage of PoE is the ability to manage video output, power input, and zoom controls with just one cable.

The camera’s 12x zoom is impressive, providing sharp details even when zoomed in fully. However, it lacks physical controls on the unit, relying on the provided remote control or software interfaces. The camera’s build is solid, with a metal casing that feels professional. It weighs about 1.5 pounds, making it suitable for field production work. However, it’s primarily designed for studio environments.

The image quality is decent. Whether zoomed in for detailed shots or zoomed out for medium close-ups, the camera captures clear and detailed visuals. However, there’s a slight rolling shutter effect with fast motions, making it less ideal for high-speed events like sports.

The on-camera microphone offers sufficient audio quality, suitable for capturing ambient sounds or dialogue in a pinch. But external microphones should be used for the best results.

For camera control, I found the web-based control panel to be the most convenient. It allows for granular image setting controls, streaming methods, and audio level adjustments. For those with multiple cameras, PTZOptics offers their free content management platform software compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. Additionally, there are apps for iPhone and third-party options for Android.

The PTZOptics Studio Pro camera is a versatile tool for streamers. It combines the features found on their high-end pan, tilt, and zoom models but of course this one only has the zoom. With multiple output options, easy controls, and a design suited for both horizontal and vertical videos, it’s a good addition to any live streaming setup.

See more of my production videos here.

Disclosure: PTZ Optics provided the camera free of charge for this review. However they did not sponsor this video nor did they review or approve my video before it was uploaded.

The Silent Crisis on YouTube : Invalid Traffic Revenue Clawbacks Decimating Small channels

The other day I received a concerning message in my YouTube analytics. The message indicated that ads had been limited on one or more of my videos due to “invalid traffic.” The ambiguity of the message left me puzzled. Which videos were affected? What financial implications would this have for my channel? I explore this brewing crisis in my latest video.

I wasn’t alone in this. A quick search revealed that several other creators, especially smaller channels like mine, were facing similar issues. Some reported losing up to 80 and 90% of their revenue with no clear explanation from YouTube beyond the vague explanation of “invalid traffic.”

YouTube’s response to this has been, to put it mildly, unsatisfactory. Their support articles mostly point fingers at creators, suggesting that the invalid traffic might be due to automated or incentivized traffic from third parties, or even friends playing videos from playlists all day long. I can confidently say that I’ve never engaged in such practices. I’ve built my channel from the ground up over a decade, always focusing on genuine content and organic growth.

What’s even more frustrating is the lack of clear communication from YouTube. When I reached out to their support, I was met with evasive answers. They wouldn’t specify which of my videos were affected or provide any clarity on the potential financial impact I can expect.

Speculating on the cause, I believe that channels like mine, which rely heavily on search traffic, might be getting penalized. About 42% of my traffic comes from people searching for specific product reviews. If YouTube’s algorithms can’t distinguish between genuine and “invalid” search traffic, channels like mine stand to lose a significant portion of their revenue.

But this issue is just the tip of the iceberg. YouTube seems to be undergoing an identity crisis. Their recent push towards “shorts” to compete with platforms like TikTok has had unintended consequences. Their usual communication discipline is appearing to break down as evidenced through a leak of their internal debates to a Financial Times reporter. The platform’s shift in focus to be more like TikTok and Instagram has affected how long-form content is recommended, leading to decreased visibility for creators like me.

The core strength of YouTube has always been its long-form content. But with the platform’s current trajectory, it feels like they’re sidelining creators who’ve been with them from the start. The lack of clear communication and support only exacerbates the feeling of being undervalued.

While I remain hopeful for the future, YouTube needs to address these issues head-on. Clear communication, better support for creators, and a re-evaluation of their current strategies are crucial. Only then can they rebuild the trust that seems to be eroding with each passing day.

ADTH Tuner Firmware Update Still Does Not Encrypt the HDMI Port

Last week I reviewed the new ADTH ATSC 3 TV tuner, the first external device that can decrypt DRM protected TV stations.

I discovered in the review that the ADTH is not protecting the HDMI output which is required according to the ATSC 3.0 DRM specifications. Some asked if recent firmware updates corrected this oversight.

After updating my box this morning my Windows laptop equipped with an Elgato Camlink USB HDMI capture device is still able to record encrypted stations:

Tablo TV Version 4 Review

My latest video is a review of the Tablo 4th Gen TV Tuner and DVR, the first Tablo product since the company was acquired by broadcast TV station owner Scripps. In addition tuning live over the air television it also provides a number of free advertiser support streaming channels that will appear in the lineup.

It is currently selling for around $99 at Best Buy (affiliate link) and it works without any ongoing subscription fees.

At first glance, it’s pretty minimalistic with just an ethernet port, a USB port for external storage, a coax connector for the antenna, and a power connector. It also has Wi-Fi, which is great if you don’t have ethernet in the room where you set it up. However, I noticed that Wi-Fi can be a bit flaky with over-the-air TV, so using ethernet might offer a better experience.

The device is wall-mountable, and they even provide the hardware for it. But there’s a catch: it’s not recommended for attic installation due to its sensitivity to extreme temperatures. It can only handle up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) maximum.

When it comes to tuning, the Tablo only supports ATSC 1.0 broadcasts. This was surprising, especially since Tablo was acquired by a major broadcast conglomerate. It is likely because the DRM encryption that the industry is putting in place is proving to be difficult to implement in devices like this. This means that the Gen 4 Tablo will work with the current standard until around 2027 when the transition to the new standard is expected to be complete.

This Tablo has two tuners, allowing it to tune into two different channels simultaneously. It comes with built-in storage of about 128 gigabytes, which they claim can store up to 50 hours of content. The USB port works with an external hard drive for additional storage, supporting up to eight terabytes.

Setting up the Tablo was straightforward. After creating an account on their website, the device guided me through the process. However, I wasn’t thrilled about the fact that they attempt to track activities outside the application on my iPhone, probably for ad targeting.

Watching live TV and setting up recordings was easy. But there’s a limitation: you can’t watch anything on mobile devices outside your home network. This is a significant restriction, especially when compared to streaming services.

The interface on the TV is user-friendly. There are apps available for Android TV, Fire TV, and Roku, with plans for Apple TV along with Samsung, and LG televisions. The channel guide is intuitive, and you can easily set up recordings. However, handling recording conflicts could be improved. If there’s a conflict, there’s no notification – you have to manually resolve it, which can be a bit tedious.

Another feature I explored in the video was the free advertiser-supported streaming channels. These channels, similar to what you’d find on Pluto TV, are integrated into the Tablo interface. What’s different with Tablo is that you can record content from these streaming channels, offering a blend of over-the-air and streaming content.

Tablo Gen 4 offers a decent experience for those looking to record over-the-air TV without ongoing costs. While it has its limitations, it’s a good option if you have a strong antenna signal in your area. I’m eager to see how the product evolves in the future.

Robo & Kala Windows Tablet Review

My latest review is of a new Windows ARM device, the Robo & Kala tablet/laptop. This product is the only one this new company is currently manufacturing.

While they call it a laptop, it’s essentially a detachable tablet with an OLED display. The tablet boasts some intriguing features, but I couldn’t help but feel that the Windows ARM experience still has some way to go.

The tablet is priced at $799, which includes the keyboard and trackpad component. One of the standout features is its 12.6-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2560 by 1600. The display is vibrant and offers a brightness of 600 nits. But it doesn’t support HDR video.

Under the hood, the tablet is powered by a Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor, paired with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state storage. Weighing in at 2.34 pounds with the keyboard attached, it’s relatively lightweight and portable. However, I did notice an issue when using it as a tablet. Often, my hand resting on the tablet would result in inadvertent inputs due to its very thin bezels, which was a bit frustrating.

In terms of build quality, the tablet feels premium with its all-metal design. The kickstand at the back is reminiscent of the Surface devices, allowing for adjustable viewing angles. A unique feature is that the detachable keyboard switches to a Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad when detached, allowing for continued use.

The keyboard itself feels pretty nice. The keys are large, well-spaced, and offer a good amount of travel. The trackpad is responsive and offers a firm click. For security, there’s no fingerprint reader, but an infrared camera facilitates facial recognition for logging in.

When it comes to ports, the tablet is equipped with two USB Type-C ports. However, there’s no headphone jack, so you’ll need to rely on Bluetooth headphones or a USB dongle. The speakers, unfortunately, left much to be desired. They sounded tinny and lacked depth. The tablet’s webcam offers decent quality with a 5-megapixel camera on the front and a 13-megapixel camera on the back.

In terms of performance, basic tasks like web browsing felt smooth, especially on an ARM-optimized browser like Edge. Video playback on platforms like YouTube was also satisfactory.

Like most ARM devices battery life here is excellent. This tablet can easily hit the 10-12 hour mark for basic tasks and video watching if display brightness is kept low. The OLED does consume more power than LED displays so other 8cx Gen 3 laptops may do a little better.

When it came to gaming, the experience was mixed. Older games like Half-Life 2 ran smoothly, but more demanding titles like GTA 5 struggled to maintain consistent frame rates. This is a reminder that while the ARM architecture offers benefits like improved battery life, it still lags behind Intel and AMD in terms of raw performance at this price point.

In conclusion, the Robo & Kala tablet is a well-constructed device with a beautiful display. It’s ideal for basic tasks and offers impressive battery life. However, the ARM architecture still has compatibility limitations, especially when it comes to more demanding applications and gaming. If you’re looking for a device primarily for office applications and light tasks, this could be a good fit. But for more intensive tasks, you might want to consider other options.

Zagg Pro Stylus 2 Review

I recently picked up the Zagg Pro Stylus 2, a lower cost, but high quality alternative to the Apple Pencil. It’s compatible with most iPads from 2018 onwards and feels similar to the Apple Pencil, although it lacks a few features. You can check it out in my latest review.

The Zagg Pro Stylus 2 is comes in a few different color options. It has a comfortable, rounded feel and a good weight, making it feel like a quality writing instrument. The stylus tip is replaceable, and an extra tip is included in the box. The back of the stylus serves two purposes: it has a button to turn the stylus on and off, and it has a capacitive nub that can be used on any touchscreen device without needing to pair first.

Pairing the stylus with an iPad requires going into the Bluetooth settings initially. Once paired, it connects automatically when turned on. Writing with the Zagg Pro Stylus 2 on my 2018 iPad Pro 11 felt similar to using an Apple Pencil. The stylus offers low latency and ignores wrist contact with the screen, just like the Apple Pencil does.

But it doesn’t detect pressure, only tilt. The tilt detection works well, allowing for lines of varying thickness based on the angle of the stylus depending on app support.

Charging the Zagg Pro Stylus 2 is a bit different from the Apple Pencil. While it has a magnet that allows it to attach to the side of the iPad, it doesn’t charge that way. Instead, it’s supposed to work with any Qi-compatible wireless charger. However, I found that none of my Qi chargers were able to charge the stylus successfully. A wireless charging cable for the stylus is included in the box, which can be connected to any USB-C port for charging.

The battery life is around six and a half hours, which is about half of what Apple advertises for their pencil. The stylus does turn off automatically when not in use to save battery life. To reactivate it, you simply push the button at the top, and it reconnects with the paired iPad.

The Zagg Pro Stylus 2 is a cost-effective alternative to the Apple Pencil. It feels similar in the hand and offers most of the same features, except for pressure detection. The only downside is the charging issue with Qi-compatible chargers, so make sure to keep the included charging cable handy.

My Space Adventure with the Crew!

I recently started collaborating with the independent space news site NSF, also known as They invited me down to Florida last week to help with the production of a few videos and their live coverage of the launch of the Crew-7 mission to the Space Station. I detailed the trip in my latest video.

NSF’s YouTube channel has a strong following, nearing a million subscribers. They cover most of the rocket launches from Florida and from SpaceX’s Starbase in Texas along with on demand coverage about the space industry worldwide. In addition to their news and event coverage they have cameras that provide a live 24/7 feed of activities at the Kennedy Space Center & Port Canaveral, and SpaceX’s two Texas locations.

I’ve already contributed as a co-host for five launches. These collaborations don’t interfere with my regular channel activities, and they allow me to find a more productive outlet for my space passion.

On the trip the NSF crew and I had the opportunity to tour the United Launch Alliance’s launchpads in Florida. The sheer scale of these rockets and launchpads is awe-inspiring. You can see more photos and footage in the video linked above. The video we produced at their facilities will be up at NSF in the near future.

We also witnessed the rollout of an Atlas V rocket. This particular Atlas V is in its most powerful configuration, with five solid rocket boosters attached. There are just under two dozen Atlas V launches remaining until it is replaced by the new larger Vulcan rocket. The mission rolling out was for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) which is mostly classified but they have released some details here.

Later that night we went to the Kennedy Space Center to cover the launch of Crew-7 to the International Space Station on a SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon. The launch was at 3:30 a.m., the second night launch I’ve witnessed in person. The rocket also successfully landed back at the nearby Cape Canaveral landing site, which was another highlight of this adventure! In the video you can see the landing and hear the massive sonic booms too.

This opportunity came about over my frustration with the performance of my space related videos. My recent coverage of the Artemis 1 launch didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped on my own channel. This is due to the YouTube algorithm siloing creators into one specific topic – in fact most of my subscribers didn’t even see the thumbnail for those videos!

As poor as those videos performed they did get noticed by a member of the NSF team who asked if I was up for a collaboration and the rest is now history :).

So, if you’re interested in space exploration, I highly recommend subscribing to NSF’s channel. My space playlist now also includes all of my NSF contributions too.

The ADTH Nextgen TV Box Shows Us Just How Bad ATSC 3.0 Encryption Will Be..

I recently got my hands on the $99 ADTH NextGen TV Box, the first certified tuner for ATSC 3.0 NextgenTV broadcasts that supports channels encrypted with DRM. You can see it in action in my latest review.

The ADTH is a basic tuner that plays back live TV to the television connected to its HDMI port. There are no DVR capabilities, and it only has a single tuner on board. It runs on Android but boots directly into its TV watching app. Some viewers have been able to shoehorn other apps onto it, but their custom tv watching app is the only one that can interact with the onboard tuner.

The device has an ethernet port, Wi-Fi, an HDMI output that supports 4K televisions and HDR, an AV out for analog audio, and an optical audio out. It only plays back on the TV it’s connected to, so the wifi and ethernet are used only for firmware and DRM decryption (more on that below). The antenna port is where you connect your antenna for receiving broadcasts. It supports AC4 audio decoding, making it compatible with older televisions.

The interface is incredibly Spartan. When you boot it up, it takes you directly to the TV viewing app. The channel guide is very limited, and the remote control is as basic as it gets, with no numbers on it. You’ll have to navigate through the channel guide or use the channel up and down buttons to find the channel you want to watch.

But the elephant in the room is the ADTH’s DRM playback capabilities. In my market, my NBC and CBS affiliates have both encrypted their ATSC 3.0 signals. And the ADTH is able to tune into them – provided I have an active Internet connection to do it. While I was able to take the box off the Internet without interrupting playback, it did require an active connection before I could switch to another encrypted channel.

This raises concerns about how the emergency broadcast system will work in the future if everything is encrypted and requires an internet connection for over the air content to play back.

Interestingly, this box allows you to directly capture footage out of the HDMI port on encrypted channels. I was able to capture the footage directly using my Elgato 4K USB capture dongle which does not allow capturing of encrypted HDCP HDMI signals. I tested a few other capture boards that restrict HDCP content and all of those worked too.

The broadcast industry, through an organization called Pearl TV, is forcing manufacturers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to certify their players to protect the signal all the way to the television. This includes ensuring that even the HDMI signal is protected – yet this box was released without proper protection? This raises questions about just how serious broadcasters are in protecting their signals vs. trying to steer customers into expensive subscription streaming plans.

All that said the ADTH experience wasn’t all that great when it did successfully decrypt a channel. I encountered occasional playback issues where the video would start to stutter after a while but then correct itself. At this time the box does not have a signal strength meter so I was unable to determine if it was the signal or something else.

Channel surfing is also not fluid; there’s a long delay and a buffer before the channel starts playing. This delay is even longer for the DRM channels as it has to go out to the internet first to get its decryption keys.

If you’re looking to watch live TV that is encrypted via the new ATSC 3 DRM, this device will allow you to watch those channels. However, it only works on the TV it’s connected to, and the tuning quality is not as good as other options like the Zapperbox or the HDHomeRun. The ADTH also confirms my beliefe that DRM is completely unnecessary, especially given that they didn’t even bother to lock out its HDMI port from allowing direct video capture.

So, it works, but it’s not great. I’ll keep you updated as we make progress fighting the encryption of over-the-air television. Be sure to register your thoughts with the FCC on their official docket!

Tesla’s New Model 3 Has a ’93 Ford Probe Interior Vibe

When I was a kid I had a 1993 Ford Probe. I loved that car – it was affordable, durable, and looked great both inside and out. The 1993 Probe was a significant update from the version of the car Ford sold from 1988 through 1992.

One of the signatures of the ’93 Probe was its wrap-around interior, with a cool red line that circled interior of the car. Check it out:

Earlier today Tesla announced their updated Model 3 that features an interior refresh that looks a bit familiar!

The Tesla being 30 years into the future uses an LED accent light for its wrap-around trim vs. the Probe’s static piece of plastic. But having spent six years in that Probe throughout high school and college it was hard not to immediately see the resemblance!